Berlin - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) honored aerospace engineer, astronaut and aviation pioneer Neil Armstrong with its Global Aviation Leadership Award (GALA). Armstrong received the award in recognition of the contributions of the space program to making aviation safer and more efficient.

The IATA GALA was established in 2002 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight. It is given to outstanding individuals for exceptional contributions that have helped shape air transport. The award was presented at the 66th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Berlin.

“Space exploration has helped to shape the commercial aviation industry. Innovations from Doppler radar and collision avoidance systems to grooved runways, satellite navigation, fly-by-wire systems and the glass cockpit all have roots in the development of the space program. Even our ability to process information can be traced back to the microchips developed to support NASA’s Apollo missions,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Among the thousands of pioneering people who have contributed to improving human existence by pushing back the boundaries of space, Neil Armstrong holds a very special place of honor. As a test pilot on over 200 models of aircraft, he challenged the limits of speed and altitude. And in 1969, he led the Apollo 11 mission and became the first man to walk on the moon, realizing an age-old dream. After retiring from NASA, Neil dedicated himself to preparing the next generation of aviators by teaching aerospace engineering. Neil Armstrong’s leadership, courage, expertise and professionalism make him an outstanding recipient of a GALA award on behalf of all those who contributed to making aviation safer and more efficient through the exploration of space,” said Bisignani.

Armstrong is the fourth GALA recipient. The first GALA was awarded in 2003 to Dr Assad Kotaite for his outstanding service as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council President for more than 30 years. The second GALA was awarded in 2005 to Minister Yang Yuanyuan of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for his strong vision and leadership on progressive liberalization in aviation. The third was awarded in 2009 to Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for his political leadership and foresight to implement an aviation policy based on open competition, positioning Singapore as an important hub for global aviation.

Corporate Communications
+ 41 22 770 2967

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.
  • IATA will be taking pool video, including interviews with CEOs and key players and general footage throughout the AGM. This will be uploaded to a website in broadcast quality MPEG2 format, for any television or Internet providers to download and edit into their own packages.
  • IATA Corporate Communications has launched a Twitter account @iata2press, specially catered for the media. Follow us now at for the latest industry updates.